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M.B.A.s are Embracing E.S.G.

Nov 13, 2021

“There are not enough people today that know about E.S.G. challenges to meet the demand that exists,” Richard Oldfield, PwC’s global markets leader, said. While it is becoming more common for M.B.A. graduates to pursue social impact jobs, it is still an unconventional path. At Wharton, just 1.8 percent of students accepted jobs in social impact, compared with 61 percent of students who went into financial services or consulting. (That figure does not include students who took sustainability-focused roles at big companies where the primary focus is not social impact.) At Stanford, the percentage of business school graduates either taking jobs related to social impact or starting their own businesses in the field was 19 percent last year, an increase from eight percent four years ago, according to the school’s career center. Some students have been deterred from applying for sustainability jobs because salaries tend to be lower than those in consulting, where the median starting salary of Wharton graduates, not including bonuses, is $165,000 a year, according to Wharton’s career report . Many students graduate from business school — where tuition alone can cost more than $150,000 for two years — with high levels of debt and are eager to pay it off quickly. “There’s this tension for any student who wants to pursue sustainability, which is, ‘I have massive debt, but I also want to do good,’” Ms. Patten said. But jobs at banks and investment firms that require skills in both finance and sustainability are increasingly offering salaries in line with traditional finance jobs, or not that much lower, she said. And the size of the paycheck may not be as big a factor as it once was. A Yale School of Management study, which has not yet been published, of more than 2,000 students across 29 business schools, found that 51 percent of students said they would accept a lower salary to work for an environmentally responsible company. That rose from 44 percent from five years ago, according to the study, written by Dr. Cort and others. Image Beyond E.S.G. jobs Regardless of the proportion of M.B.A. graduates who end up in social impact fields, rising interest could help E.S.G. considerations become a bigger part of business. Over the past two years, Yale’s Dr. Cort said, professors have begun incorporating sustainability lessons into the required core courses like microeconomics, accounting and corporate finance. That’s important to students like Neha Dalal, who graduated from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in June. Ms. Dalal said she chose to pursue an M.B.A. because she wanted to learn how to use financial tools to solve social problems. At Stanford, she was an officer of the impact investing club, where students invested in early stage for-profit companies that aim to bring financial returns alongside social and environmental ones. The club was so popular that a third of students in the business school’s class of 2022 applied to join last year, she said. Ms. Dalal, who works in philanthropy at an investment management firm, said business schools have a key role to play in teaching students about sustainability and ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, known as D.E.I. She said that if students learn how to hire in ways that minimize bias and learn to invest in ways that consider environmental and social impact, they will continue to do so throughout their careers. Business schools aren’t alone in making this shift. PwC is training large numbers of its staff — including auditors, management consultants and tax advisers — to be well versed in the challenges that climate change will pose to clients in the coming years. That includes how climate risks affect deal valuations, how companies can reduce carbon emissions and how companies can put reporting systems in place to comply with new regulations. “Everybody in our organization has got to get to a base level of understanding of what the challenges are,” Mr. Oldfield said. Costis Maglaras, the dean of Columbia Business School, said the new focus on social impact makes sense considering that climate change will affect every part of the way businesses operate over the coming years. “Over the last two decades if you ask yourself, ‘What is the thing that really transformed businesses?’ It’s been technology, data, analytics,” Dr. Maglaras said. “If you were to ask what will transform businesses in the future, I believe it’s going to be climate change.” Image What do you think? Is the focus on E.S.G. at business schools here to stay? Will the number of E.S.G. jobs continue to grow? Let us know: dealbook@nytimes.com . Advertisement

Richard Oldfield Investments

2 Investments

Richard Oldfield has made 2 investments. Their latest investment was in Let's Do This as part of their Series A on November 11, 2019.

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Richard Oldfield Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

11/12/2019

Series A

Let's Do This

$15.02M

No

3

8/21/2017

Angel

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$99M

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10

Date

11/12/2019

8/21/2017

Round

Series A

Angel

Company

Let's Do This

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Amount

$15.02M

$99M

New?

No

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Co-Investors

Sources

3

10

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